The Seattle Seahawks and Building a Champion

Jason Pankow Current Affairs, Good HR, HR & Sports, Jason Pankow, Leadership, Sports, Uncategorized

Last week, I sent an email to my FOT colleagues asking for a post swap.  I wanted the opportunity to post the day after my Seahawks played in the Superbowl!  I should confess, however, if they had lost, I have no clue what I would have written about.

But, they didn’t lose!  In fact, they so didn’t lose that I was actually relieved when Denver scored that touchdown because I was really starting to feel bad for them!  And, now the Seattle Seahawks are the Champions!  They are bringing the Lombardi trophy home to Seattle and the 12th Man! I couldn’t be more excited!  I mean… I am so excited that I have used an exclamation point in every sentence of this paragraph!

The Seahawks have built a great football organization. But, the team has a culture that has helped them get where they are now.  Besides play great football, the Hawks have put into place practices that have propelled them to champion status.  These practices can even work in your organization (bet you didn’t see that coming)!  Here are some of my favorites:

  1. Don’t be afraid to take risks.  In 2012, the Seahawks signed a hot and expensive commodity by the name of Matt Flynn.  Flynn was this dude who spent a lot of time backing up Aaron Rogers.  He was seen as highly sought after and when the Hawks signed him, it was a big win.  So, when they drafted this short little nobody in the 3rd round, nobody really noticed except to say what a crappy draft the Seahawks had.  But Coach Pete and the Seahawks were open to taking risks.  They gave said short little nobody, who is now a short little somebody named Russell Wilson, a chance at the QB spot.  And, Holy Catfish—he got the job!  Matt Flynn was a heck of an expensive backup quarterback.  But, if the Seahawks didn’t take that risk, they would likely not be the champions they are today.
  2. Take everything one day at a time.  The Seahawks had an overall goal.  That goal was to win the Superbowl.  But, to do that, they needed to focus on the here and now.  In interviews, you would often hear Russell Wilson or Pete Carroll say that the goal was to go 1-0 that week.  One game at a time.  Don’t worry about next week.  Don’t worry about getting to the playoffs.  Right now, worry about this game and this opponent.  Keep your eye on the prize, but make that prize the one in front of you—not the one at the end of the tunnel.  By winning immediately, you are set up to win in the end.
  3. Let your people be themselves.  So often, I feel like we put unfair restrictions on people… restrictions that are meant to put a good face on your company, obviously.  But, what’s a better face than the one we all have?  The Seahawks have such diverse personalities on their team.  Just take a look at the three most famous Seahawks:  Russell Wilson is a soft-spoken, humble young man—a person who never fails to deflect credit from himself and put it onto his teammates.  Richard Sherman is a confident smack-talker—a person who ruffles feathers just because he can and he knows he can!  Then, there is Marshawn Lynch.  He doesn’t say anything.  He’s “just about that action, Boss.”  Don’t talk to him… just watch what he does on the field.  While some sport organizations give you a dress code or limit what you can say, the Hawks say “Be yourself!”  Just do what’s best for the team.  While the NFL fines Beastmode (aka Lynch), his teammates answer the media for him!  When Sherman goes off after a game, his coach simply sat him down “like my son” as Coach explained, and reminded him to keep his team in mind.  No, “keep your mouth shut.”  No, “you sounded stupid.”  Simply… keep your team in mind.
  4. Respect your 12th Man!  Let your client/customer know you love them.  The Seahawk’s client is the 12th Man.  Me… and the rest of Washington and the Pacific Northwest (and apparently now my mom who lives in Arizona but has informed me she wants a Beastmode jersey).  You may have heard about the noise at CenturyLink field.  However loud you think it is—it’s actually louder!  The 12th Man is real in Seattle.  We absolutely feel like we help win games.  And, if you listen to the players and coaches, they will say the same thing!  They have given us an identity beyond ticket buyer.  We can buy a jersey with the number 12.  A number no player will wear, so you don’t need to worry that it will be obsolete when someone leaves the team.  It’s our number.  We have truly been made to believe that our presence matters.  That we make a difference.  Does your client feel this love?  Do they feel like they matter?  I mean, they don’t necessarily need their own jersey.  But do you at least let them know you care?

Right about now, you may be saying, “Jason… you’re clearly only writing this post because you want to talk about the Seahawks and how they are Superbowl champions.”  To you I say this:


My team just won the Superbowl!  And we will likely be just as good next year.  Maybe my next post will be about building a dynasty!